Kerry: 'No new nuances'

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 16 2003 4:41 PM

L.A. Times Poll Scandal?

Plus: Recall Wreck Roundup

(Continued from Page 1)

I think Pregerson probably meant minority voters, not "candidates." Either way. ..

P.S.: There are problems with punch card ballots. But there are also problems with some of the new voting technologies that would replace them. Are we delaying an election in order to replace one flawed system with another? Here's Rick Hasen's answer:

Whether the new techologies could create equal protection problems of their own is a separate question that may itself have to be litigated some time.


Wow! So we delay the next election too! Hasen's theory seems like a way to let the ACLU tie up democracy in the courts for years. Gray Davis Forever! ...  Why let counties decide which voting system to buy if any difference in error rates between different voting systems--and there will always be some difference, enough of a difference to have decided the dead-heat 2000 election in Florida--is going to be the basis for a righteous Equal Protection claim? If that's the case, the Constitution would seem to require uniform statewide purchases (and maintenance!) of voting machines. ...

P.P.S.: In part, the Ninth Circuit decision seems another example of the nefarious effect of the practice of "consent decrees." Apparently the previous California Secretary of State, upon being sued, entered into such a "consent" agreement under which he agreed punch cards were unacceptable, and agreed to phase them out by the March 2004 election. Now his successor as Secretary of State is prevented (by his agreement to that consent decree) from arguing that punch card ballots are OK. But somehow the ACLU is not barred by its seeming acceptance, in the same deal, that elections between now and March 2004 might involve the use of punch cards. ... As Debra Saunders points out, Gray Davis was re-elected in 2002 in a contest in which some counties used punch card ballots. Why was that system OK then but not OK now? Hasen's answer, which is better than his answer on the problems of new voting technologies, is that this election will be closer and more confusing, with 135 candidates. ...

P.P.P.S.: If I were the U.S. Supreme Court, I would be very reluctant to reverse the Ninth Circuit and thus cement a reputation as an unprincipled partisan court that upholds obscure Equal Protection arguments when they throw an election to Republicans (as in Bush v. Gore) but strikes them down when they would throw the election to the Democrats. This suggests that the pro-recall forces' best hope is a rehearing bythe entire Ninth Circuit sitting en banc, not an appeal to SCOTUS. ...

P.P.P.P.S.: Just how many more votes are lost in punch card systems versus other technologies? 1.34 percent of the votes cast, according to the ACLU's expert. And that's before any special voter education efforts that might be made. ...

P.P.P.P.P.S.: One possible outcome on appeal--the vote will be postponed, but not all the way to March, if the punch card machines can be replaced before then. Even the ACLU's brief allows for this possibility. ... Crazy thought: Why not eliminate the disparity between counties by making all the counties use punch cards, if that's faster? ... 10:56 A.M.

Too good to check: An emailer claims that at a recent "town hall" meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger offered this explanation for why his mother, worried about her son's odd body-building hobby, took him to the family doctor:

"We don't have shrinks in Austria, like you do in America."

4:10 A.M.

This is his supporters' argument: My favorite paragraph of the L.A. Times' front page piece on why "many voters" are deciding the recall is "unfair to Davis."

For many recall opponents, the vote should not be taken as a referendum on Davis' record. Many agree with recall backers that Davis bungled California's electricity crisis, spent the state into a $38-billion budget hole and devoted himself more to fund-raising than to governance. Their point: It doesn't matter. [Emph. added]

For others, it does! ... See also Weintraub, who points out that Bill Clinton's argument against recalls--that they would discourage governors from taking bold actions that anger voters in the short term but be good for the state in the long term--doesn't apply to Davis. He's accused precisely of not taking that sort of action. ... P.P.S.: Weintraub argues that Clinton's implicit analogy of the recall with federal impeachment (which is accepted by the Times) has no historical basis.

"When the voters a very long time ago put the recall in the constitution of California," Clinton said, "it was supposed to be triggered in extreme cases, when you had someone who was corrupt and just would not go, or someone who was physically or mentally incapacitated. Neither is the case here."

But that's not why the recall was put into the constitution. It was put there to give the voters the ability to remove a state officer for any reason, and specifically for dissatisfaction with his or her performance in office. For corruption we have impeachment. [Emph. added]

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